Elderly abuse is considered an action or any inaction by self or other people that threaten the overall health and wellbeing of a senior. Elderly abuse can take different forms, such as financial, physical, sexual, emotional, or neglect. Sometimes, more than one form of elderly abuse happens simultaneously. Among these different types of elderly abuse, financial and emotional are the two most frequently recognized and reported abuses globally.
Who Is the Real Victim?
Any senior can face abuse and become the victim of elderly abuse regardless of gender, ethnicity, race, education, or income. There is inadequate information about elderly abuse throughout the world. A major reason behind that is the majority of such cases go unreported.
However, various research shows that between 4% and 8% of older adults are more likely to experience elderly abuse in one country. Guilt or shame may prevent a senior from exposing their abuse, and often victims do not have the facility to report it.
Whether any victim is unwilling or unable, a few of the key barriers to disclosing elderly abuse include love for their abuser, fear, insufficient knowledge or impairment, acceptance of abuse, lack of awareness about resources, or acceptance of neglect as normal.
Things To Do If You’re Being Abused
If you or anyone you know is experiencing abuse at a caring facility such as a nursing home, here are a few ways you can act.
Take Legal Action
Every type of abuse is immoral, and some types are completely illegal. Senior citizens in nursing homes may often suffer neglect or abuse that jeopardizes their quality of life. In such cases, you can take legal action by connecting with a nursing home abuse attorney to obtain compensation to afford your medical and other related expenses.
Confide In People You Trust
Speak to a person you can trust about what’s happening in your life, such as your family members or any friend. You can also get help from a social worker, public health nurse, home care worker, a doctor, or anyone at the place of worship.
Keep A Record
Note down everything going on in your daily routine and keep a proper record of it. It will help you document your abuse and allow others to assist you whenever you need it.
Never Blame Yourself
Remember that it’s never your fault if you are being abused by anyone at your home or caring facility, and help is there for you. Ask for help anytime you need it, as you don’t deserve to be treated that way. Various groups in different communities help seniors protect their rights, dignity, and safety.
What Are the Major Signs of Elder Abuse?
Like any other type of family abuse or violence, the dynamics of elderly abuse are complicated. Elderly abuse is often influenced by the physical and mental conditions of the abuser and the victim—these factors interact in different ways uniquely based on the persons involved and their situation.
The major risk factors for abuse include the history of abuse, family dynamics, troubled relatives, isolation, inability to deal with long-term care providing, institutional conditions, ageism and inadequate knowledge of the aging process, and society’s tolerance of abuse.
The common signs of elderly abuse include depression, confusion, anxiety, unexplained injuries, alteration in hygiene, feeling fearful around some people, and worry or fear while talking about money.
Different Types of Elderly Abuse
Elder abuse is identified as a constantly increasing and severe problem in society. Unfortunately, because of under-reporting, changes in the description of elder abuse, and the lack of a nationwide uniform abuse reporting system, it is hard to recognize the scope of this problem. The National Center on Elder Abuse (NEA) differentiates between seven distinct types of elderly abuse: physical, emotional, sexual, neglect, self-neglect, financial/material exploitation, and abandonment.
- Physical abuse. Physical force can lead to bodily injury, pain, or impairment.
- Emotional abuse. Infliction of pain, anguish, or distress by verbal or non-verbal actions.
- Sexual abuse. Non-consensual physical contact of any type with an elderly individual.
- Neglect. Denial, or failure, to complete any part of someone’s duties or obligations to an older adult.
- Self-neglect. Behaviors of an older person can impact the elder’s safety and health.
- Financial/material exploitation. Improper or Illegal use of an elder’s property, funds, or assets.
- Abandonment. Desertion of an elderly individual by someone who has physical custody of that elder or accepted responsibility for providing proper care to that elder.
Risk Factors for Elderly Abuse
It’s tough to take care of an elder who has plenty of different needs, and also, it’s tough to become elderly when age carries with it ailments and dependence. The requirements of caregiving and the demands of an elder will establish such a situation in which abuse is possible to happen.
Most nonprofessional caregivers, adult children, relatives, and friends find taking care of an elder person enriching and satisfying. However, the demands and responsibilities of caregiving, which increase as an elder’s condition worsens, will also lead to significant stress. The stress of elderly care will result in physical and mental health issues that leave care providers burned out and more susceptible to lashing out or neglecting the older adult in the care.
In addition to the care provider’s incapability of managing stress, other risk factors that contribute to elderly abuse include:
- Depression and stress in the caregiver.
- Lack of assistance from other caregivers.
- The caregiver believes that taking care of an elder is troublesome without any emotional reward.
- Substance abuse by your caregiver.
- The extent of the older adult’s ailment or dementia.
- In social isolation, the elders and their caregivers are almost alone all the time.
- A history of domestic abuse or violence at home.
- The elder’s tendency to physical or verbal aggression.
Even caregivers in medical institutional settings will experience stress at points that result in elderly abuse. Nursing homes staff can be vulnerable to elderly abuse if they have insufficient training, have many different responsibilities, are unsuitable for caregiving, or practice under poor conditions.
As the population of the entire world ages, the number of elderly abuse cases increases dramatically. The WHO predicts that over 320 million will suffer from elderly abuse by 2050.
Sadly, addressing elderly abuse remains a big problem since the root cause varies with every case, and the full extent of that problem is still undetermined.
Families can help keep their seniors safe and healthy by checking on them frequently and immediately reporting the signs of abuse to their local authorities. You can also find some excellent quality nursing homes by comparing different care facility websites and learning which ones have been cited for elderly abuse.